The New Worker
The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain
Week commencing 3rd December 2010
THE FOURTH 24-hour strike by London Underground workers, in the long-running dispute over 800 threatened station staff job cuts, was the strongest yet, according to union reports.
Transport for London (TfL) managers claimed to be running an almost full service during Monday’s strike but anyone trying to travel soon found that claim to be false. They did run some empty “ghost” trains that no-one could board because none or few of the stations were staffed and open.
Bob Crow, general secretary of the RMT transport union, said: “If you believe what is on the TfL website then you believe in Father Christmas. They are using propaganda to mislead the public.
“They said Liverpool Street was open when it was closed and they said the Waterloo and City line was running when it wasn’t.”
During another recent 24-hour strike Tube passengers found themselves stranded for 40 minutes in a padlocked empty station at Canary Wharf during a recent 24-hour strike, it was revealed today.
The TSSA rail union called on Boris Johnson to “get a grip” on trains dumping passengers at locked stations during the walkouts as it confirmed the go ahead for Monday’s 24-hour stoppage, which began on Sunday evening.
It detailed a list of ten incidents where tube trains have stopped at closed stations and wrongly allowed passengers to wander off before the driver realised he should have kept the carriage doors shut.
The worst incident was at Canada Water during the second strike on 4th October when up to 40 passengers found themselves locked in the station for 40 minutes at 5.00pm after leaving their tube train which should not have stopped.
They eventually found a stairway that led up to the local bus garage and they managed to escape.
“The customer reporting this incident to me said that she felt very claustrophobic and scared about the whole incident,” London Underground’s incident reporting log recorded.
On the same day, two Chinese tourists were trapped in Arnos Grove tube station for more than half an hour after being inadvertently let out of a Piccadilly line train.
They were only released after being spotted by a passer-by.
“We are very concerned about the safety implications of passengers being left stranded at locked and unmanned stations,” said union general secretary Gerry Doherty.
“We are highlighting the problem today because we do not want to see any repetition of those incidents during Monday’s walkout.”
But on Monday at 6am hundreds of Tube passengers were dumped out of a train at Leytonstone station, which was closed, and had to escape through a rail depot.
And on Monday evening, hours after the strike had ended, the disruption was still being felt. Passengers boarded trains only to be told as they went along that station after station was closed and the train would not be stopping there.
Many found themselves stranded late at night a long way from their intended destination.
Gerry Doherty, leader of the TSSA, the other union involved in the dis pute, said: “When it comes to fiction, London Underground could give Dan Brown (Da Vinci Code author) a run for his money. They have not told the truth about the impact of this strike from day one.”
He also said: “This dispute is about safety and we want passengers to be kept safe at all times. Instead of making wild claims that he is running half of his normal service during the strikes, Boris [London Mayor] should actually sit down with us and negotiate a settlement which delivers a safe and workable Tube service for the future.”
The unions are now considering stepping up the action with two- or three-day strikes.
The strike had the full support of the TUC, whose general secretary, Brendan Barber, said: “It should be remembered that tube staff are not striking over pay and conditions but over ticket office closures and the impact of cuts on passengers.”
The unions warn that even during “normal” operating days, the Tube is facing mounting chaos arising from spending cuts and increasing train breakdowns and line faults.
Bob Crow said: “Safety rules are being ripped up by TfL to justify its PR stunt on levels of service and its misleading information is driving thousands of passengers on to services that don’t exist, creating massive risk to life and limb.
“Once again RMT and TSSA members have stood rock solid in this dispute over Tube safety.”